Cheap Trick formed in Rockford, Illinois, USA in 1972. Main songwriter Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson had originally performed as The Grim Reapers, then Fuse and Sick Man Of Europe before settling on the CT moniker.
The original incarnation of Cheap Trick contained vocalist Randy “Xeno” Hogan, but after two years of steady touring he was replaced by Robin Zander.
With the classic line-up now in place, the band secured a deal with Epic, releasing their eponymous debut album early in 1977.
More marketable was the band’s highly original image with Zander and Petersson the good looking ones, while drummer Bun E Carlos was the joker in the pack with his Tweedle-Dee/Tweedle-Dum attire (baseball cap, bowtie and all-round eccentricity).
Tours supporting KISS, Santana and Queen helped promote the band’s off-the-wall appeal to a wider audience, and their follow-up LP, In Color (also in 1977) gained healthy sales and a US Top 75 placing.
The album featured the excellent single I Want You To Want Me, which was a flop the first time around although a live version subsequently made the US Top 10 in 1979.
Following the success of their third studio album Heaven Tonight (1978), their harder edged live set At Budokan (1979) turned their popularity in Japan into even greater commercial popularity in America. The band only included I Want You To Want Me because the promoter at the Budokan told them they had to pad out their set list. It became a huge hit and remains their most famous song.
The LP record struck platinum, hitting the Top 5 in the process and making them virtual overnight international stars over the following decade.
Another Top 10 track, Dream Police (1979) consolidated their new-found fame, although this was nearly wrecked when Cheap Trick worked with the legendary George Martin on the album All Shook Up. Petersson felt the strain and bailed out before their next album One On One (1982) which had seen Jon Brant come in as a replacement for the temporary Pete Comita.
In 1983 they employed the services of Todd Rundgren on their album Next Position Please, which was a relative flop compared to the lofty chart heights of its predecessors.
After a near return to form with the 1985 album Standing On The Edge, they trawled a creative and commercial trough with The Doctor (1986). Drastic measures were needed.
Tom Petersson returned and the group drafted in outside writers to make 1988’s Lap Of Luxury their most successful album of that decade. This was due in no small part to their first singles chart-topper, The Flame – a Zippo-waving power ballad written by hired guns Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham which gave Cheap Trick that much-needed US #1.
Their AOR formula was utilised once more on their 1990 Busted, although this was to be their last taste of major chart action.
The 1994 Warner Brothers set, Woke Up With A Monster saw the band attempting to recapture their 70’s sound.
Three years later after a one-off single for the cult independent label Sub Pop, Cheap Trick released an eponymous set on the independent Red Ant Records which dented the US Top 100.
The group have continued to record and tour (with Nielsen’s son, Daxx, replacing Bun E on drums) and, in 2016, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.
Bun E Carlos